It’s a pleasure to welcome John Hegley, a poet who never fails to entertain with his words, wit, music and audience participation. In a career spanning over 40 years John has appeared on Radio 4 and Radio 1, been a regular at the Edinburgh Festival and been an inspirational tutor running creative writing classes and activities up and down the country.
He has recently published a collection of poems inspired by the life and work of John Keats with Caldew Press called A Scarcity of Biscuit. On the podcast he talks about how he came to know and appreciate Keats’ life and work starting with a residency at Keats’ house. He has continued to explore and write about the great romantic poet using his playful style of writing to reveal a lighter side to the tragic bard’s life.
John’s fish acrostics exercise
Make a paper fish and write an a poem on it with each line beginning with the letters of the word FISH and/or POISSON. See the video above for a demonstration and a couple of examples by Patrick below.
Please share your work as always. It would be great to see pictures of your fish on social media. Please post and tag @poetrynonstop. You can also send them by email here. Let’s create a shoal of poetic paper fish!
You can purchase A Scarcity of Biscuit from Caldew Press here. For John’s other work and activities, see his website: www.johnhegley.co.uk
Books by many of the poets featured on the podcast are available from the Poetry Non-Stop bookshop here. All books purchased via this link help to raise money to keep this podcast going.
Here’s an abracadabra poem by Will Ingrams. Hopefully it will conjure up a bit of green magic as Cop 26 begins.
You can learn more about the abracadabra form on the recent podcast with Ken Cumberlidge here.
And when should we panic? The countries that mine coal and strangle the planet want time to ‘adjust’, while our leaders decline to fund wider replacement of gas burning boilers, so how can we maintain the hope that a granddaughter’s child might find himself blessed with a world like this?
Choose an aisle in a supermarket and write a poem about it OR write a poem with the title ‘A Supermarket Just Before Closing’.
Visit a supermarket you don’t usually go to or go at an unusual time
Make a list of words associated with supermarkets
Write down memories, observations and other experiences associated with supermarkets
Think about how these experiences relate to other parts of your life
We’d love to read any poems you write so please send them in here for a chance to be featured on the blog or podcast.
John Osborne writes stories, poems and scripts. His poetry has been broadcast on Radio 1, Radio 3, Radio 4, BBC 6Music, XFM and Soho Radio. You can purchase A Supermarket Love Story here with illustrations by Katie Pope
Wendy Hind from Lincoln, Nebraska, turned to poetry when her son was born with critical health problems. As her interest developed in poetry as narrative medicine for the soul she started the Tiny Poetry project, writing and sharing poems that deliver small but potent doses of hope, resilience, compassion and empathy. She shares some of the poems and talks about how the power of poetry is being increasingly recognised in the medical world.
Wendy also shares a poem written in response to Abbie Neale‘s writing exercise on clothing.
1. Think of a time when you or a loved one was ill. Take a few moments to write down five to 10 words that come into your mind when you think about that experience. 2. Next write a corresponding word next to each of the words you have just written. Maybe it is a descriptive word, maybe an action word, maybe a metaphor. 3. Now read through the group of words circle those pairs that resonate the loudest with you. Add one more brutally honest word to each pair. 4. Take these words and attempt to compose a poem. The poem may be long at first. Often tiny poems are the result of paring down a longer poem – much like taking your initial list of words and taking out those words that are the least powerful. 5. As concise brevity is the point of a tiny poem, every word must work towards the meaning of your poem.
This is a great exercise for focusing the mind and writing about experiences that might be difficult to address. As you can see from the notes above, the initial list of does not have to be particularly creative or original. The words may or may not end up in the final poem but can help to pinpoint the one concise thing you want to say about the subject you’re writing about.
As always, submissions are encouraged. Please send you poems here to be featured on the blog or podcast.
Coming up on the podcast Wendy Hind from Lincoln, Nebraska, shares poems from her Tiny Poetry project and talks about how it was inspired by her son who was born with critical health issues. You can find more poems on her website.
White Flag If you think I am going to wave the white flag you are mistaken. If you think I am going to retreat you are wrong. I may have to refortify, I may have to bandage my wounds, but I am not done fighting, and I intend to win this war. I will not surrender to my pain, nor to you.
LA-based poet Michelle Marie Jacquot’s new pamphlet DETERIORATE, which criticizes and questions the digital age and the effects our modern world has had on humanity. She reads from this and her other collections and discusses her no-nonsense DIY approach to publishing and promotion.
Michelle’s predictive text poetry writing exercise
Has technology ever corrected something you meant to write into something completely different? What did it change? How did you react, feel? Maybe not even a word, perhaps a name? Someone you love to someone you hate? Did it make you angry? Make you laugh? Or was it a silly word? One you never use? Did it change the meaning entirely? Maybe it just made you annoyed at your phone? Who knows. Think on one time autocorrect has changed your words without permission. If it hasn’t, congratulate yourself and write about being precise or lucky, or both.
Please share whatever poems the exercise inspires. Submissions can be sent here for possible inclusion on the blog or future episodes.
In this episode we look at children’s poetry with Bristol-based poet Ted Sherman. He reads from his book for eight to 12-year-olds Dungeon Days which reveals the hidden lives of the mythical creatures living in a typical Dungeons and Dragons dungeon. He also provides a masterclass in writing similar children’s fantasy poems.
We encounter a dwarf in search of a hobby outside his deadly day job, a skeleton with an unusual afterlife and truly monstrous school dinners served by a minotaur. Patrick also shares a poem about a very athletic crab.
Ted’s children’s fantasy character creation exercise
There might seem like a lot of steps to this but each one is quite easy and together they provide a good foundation for a poem that children will love.
Choose your character’s species. Is it a witch, a mermaid, a giant or dwarf. It could be a superhero or some kind of animal.
Describe the characters appearance including things like gender, age, size
Name your character.
What is your character’s job? Try picking something not typically associated with fantasy – i.e. a milkman, the prime minster, a train driver etc.
Create a short, one or two sentence, back story in which there must be a twist, such as the goblin train driver can’t see the controls of the train because he is too small so has to find another way to drive it.
Create a brief story plan – a starting point, a midpoint and the end, so that there is a strong narrative through the poem.
Decide on a rhyme scheme and brainstorm rhyming words that you can use in your poem.
This should give you all you need to write your poem. You don’t have to stick to the plan – things are sure to change along the way. When you’ve written your poem please send it in. It might be featured on the blog or podcast. Poems can be sent here.
Ted Sherman is a father of 3. His poetry has been read on BBC Bristol Radio and has been performed as part of the Echoes and Edges Collab’ Sessions, He has been published in several haiku journals (including Modern Haiku and Seashores), and during lockdown he undertook a project to display the Dungeon Days poems in a woodland area of Bristol during lockdown (this was nominated for the Radio 4 All In The Mind awards).
Wise words from Newport poet Des Mannay whose poems are reached further than he could have imagined. His raw, witty, personal and often political poems have attracted the attention of editors and competition judges leading to opportunities to perform and publish across the globe and beyond… Seriously – some of his poems are due to be sent to the moon!
On this podcast he reads from his debut collection Sod ‘Em – and Tomorrow, and shares a writing exercise on family history:
“Take a story or myth which is a part of your family history. Reflect on how you fit in as part of that story.”
Everyone’s family background offers rich material for writing. Des talks about his background and how you can learn more about yours to respond to the writing exercise.
You can buy Des’s book here. Books by many of the poets featured on the podcast can be purchased via the Poetry Non-Stop bookshop here. All books purchased via this link help to raise money to keep this podcast going.
Newport poet Des Mannay performs On The Buses from his debut collection Sod ‘Em – and Tomorrow. Des has won multiple awards and his poems have been published internationally. Look out for the next podcast when he will be sharing more poems and advice on writing and getting your work noticed.
Selkies, Medusa, moss children and other myths and legends inspire poems in this podcast with Manchester-based poet Ella Duffy. Ella reads from her books New Hunger and Rootstalk and discusses how she finds inspiration in mythology and the natural world. She also invites listeners to write a poem inspired by myths, fairy tales and legends.
Ella’s Mythology writing exercise
For this writing exercise, you’ll begin your own reimagining of an existing story, from either mythology or fairytale, folklore or legend. It can be interesting to think about your reimagining as a form of translation; some aspects of the story will remain the same, while others may shift entirely.
Listen to the podcast for more ideas on how to approach this exercise and Patrick’s response which imagines Medusa’s head being kept in a Marks and Spencer bag for life.
As always please share your poems. They could be featured on the blog or podcast. Please send them here.
To read more of Ella’s poems and buy her books see her website elladuffy.co.uk.
You can also buy New Hunger and other books by podcast guests via the Poetry Non-Stop bookshop here. All books purchased via this link help to raise money to keep this podcast going.